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Corporate America and the Promises of A Better Life




I think we’re on the same page when we say the church has the one message that is above all messages: the message of Hope… the message that is Christ.

I’ve been amazed, astounded, and frankly, a bit bewildered by Corporate America’s infringement on the message. It’s amazing the promises they are making, and it’s even more amazing to acknowledge the impact their messaging has in the world. We can easily say it’s corporate spin but the sad reality is that people are falling for the spin. Our team is quick to remind our partner churches that we are not in competition with other churches, we are in competition with Corporate America’s big claims and ridiculous promises. They are vying for our passion, time, investment, and families.

Here’s a sampling of the secular competition and the brand promises they make:

VISA: Life takes Visa
BMW: The Story of Joy
STARBUCKS: The Third Place (first place family, second place work, third place Starbucks)
AMERICAN EXPRESS: My Card. My Life.
CADILLAC: The New Standard of the World
COCA-COLA: It’s the Real Thing
VOLVO: For Life
GILLETTE: The Best a Man Can Get
SKOAL: Always there In a Pinch
PRUDENTIAL: Get a Piece of the Rock
PEPSI: Come Alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation
LEXUS: The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
DISNEYLAND: The Happiest Place on Earth

The list could go on and on.

It’s easy to conclude… “they’re stealing our thunder.” They quite simply are taking our message and making it their own. Their grand promises are watering down the messages of the local church. We know their promises are empty ones, but most of America doesn’t see it that way. Starbucks sees itself as the Third Place without a mention of faith or the local church in their mantra. Volvo for Life… are you kidding?! Pepsi Come Alive… really?

Is this a wake up call for the church? It should be.

What is your church communicating? Are you leveraging communication methods in the most impacting ways? Are you telling the old, old story in new ways that causes more people to take note and act? Could you be doing more?

Here’s a promise for you… count on Corporate America stepping up their game and doing more.

As leaders and communicators of the message we must do more.

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2 Responses

  1. I admire the passion in this post, but what of a theological engagement of the Holy Spirit? Do we accept the explicit claim, and implicit Pelagianism, that the playing field will be leveled by an effort that rivals corporate marketers?

    I agree that Corporate America will always try to steal our thunder, but they do not have the Third Person of the Trinity opening the hearts of their audience. We do.

    One of the biggest mistakes the modern church commits is playing on the opponents’ field by their rules. If there is one insight we can take from marketers, it is this: that they appeal to desire. Theirs is a better theological understanding of the human heart than most churches.

  2. Great point, Steve. You’re right—the presence of the Spirit at work through the message of the gospel gives power to the work of the church. Also that God is for the church in a way that he isn’t for Cadillac or Skoal gives us hope that the church is winning and will win in the end.

    My concern is that the church often (not always) thinks of communication/marketing/branding as either 1)the way of the world and therefore not worth putting actual effort into or 2)something to put all your effort into, over-emphasizing the importance it plays in your ministry. Both approaches lack authenticity and are ineffective.

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